When an athlete has a poor performance there are painful feelings of disappointment, and explaining what went wrong to all your family, friends and supporters kind of feels like rubbing salt in the wound. So I am going to direct people to this post to have a quick read on what went wrong.
As I mentioned in my pre-race post I had put in the time and effort and felt that I had really done as much as I could considering everything that life has offered over the past 4 months. I progressed my workouts well and felt that I was set up to have the potential for a personal best race. One of my strengths remains that I always put in the work and don’t miss workouts (on some occasions I might change a workout if things are good or bad). But perhaps my biggest questions mark remains the bike discipline of my training. For a variety of reasons I have been without a proper bike for 2 years, and inherently this poses some serious challenges. I bought a second hand bike out of desperation earlier this summer and committed to trying a new approach to my bike fit. More on this to come. . . .
Swim – 44:23
There was a bit of confusion at the race start and some pros (including me) didn’t even hear the cannon sound. I was swimming back towards the start line and when taking a breath I hear “and the pros are off!”. Yikes. I punched it to the back of the swim start and was able to work my way through the crowd into a small pack at the front and settled in there for a good swim that saw me come out of the water in 10th. I was happy with this of course and I felt that I had got myself into a decent position to start the bike.
Speaking of the swim have a read up in the local online news paper and when you scroll down to the pictures, voila! #40 (me) swimming along:
Bike – 5:03:44
First of all, I don’t like to sugar coat anything and I am not going to do that here either 5:03:44 = pathetic. I took off out of T1 at an effort that I had trained for. The pace is high at the start of Ironman races and I was comfortable with the effort I was putting out. But within 20miles my glutes and hamstrings told me they were not happy with what was going on. This is about the time I started to realize that the little things that had been coming up in training (tight right hamstring and “feeling stuck or jammed up” hip flexors) were certainly indicators that my bike fit had not been proper. But things take time and I had only been in this position for a short period of time (relatively speaking) and as I started to get the signs that things were truly amiss it was too close to the race to change anything.
The abnormal discomfort certainly didn’t get any better as the bike leg went on and I was doing irreversible damage that was destroying my race. One of the hardest things is that you never really know something until you try it in a race, and I now know that the bike and the position I am in on it (which cannot be changed due to the frame size and my body shape) is not even close to correct. I can see my past coach Noa just shaking her head that I even attempted to ride this frame. But I will be seeking her out to help with my bike fit once I get my hands on a new (not 2009) bike frame that fits. Lastly, to quote a friend and fellow pro athlete “when I saw your bike pic on facebook I was like – is that a picture from 2004?”. Ouch Jim, I love your honesty thought brother.
Run – 3:47:53
It pains me to see a run like that beside my name. I started out the run exactly how I planned – knocking off ~6:25 miles. Overall I felt comfortable with this and continued on this pace until about mile 7 when my glutes began to rebel. By the time I reached mile 9 and started climbing the hills I knew that glutes/hamstrings/hip flexors were not in support of what my mind was planning. Alas, by mile 14 I was forced to walk as my glutes began to cramp. From there it was a walk / jog as I was able, and by mile 23 mile glutes had relaxed enough that I could jog to the finish line.
The only reason I am willing to write a post like this is because I got up everyday in the preparation for this race the same way I always have – willing and ready to put in the work. I will continue to do this because I love it. But the ultimate thing for me, and I feel that I can speak for most athletes in our sport when I say this, is being so well and properly prepared for an Ironman that I can put myself in the position to push through the suffering when it really gets ugly and have a performance to be proud of in the process.
Lastly, the town of Chattanooga has really embraced this event and I want to thank the town and all the volunteers for being so supportive all weekend long. Especially my homestay couple Rick & Katie – thank you so much for welcoming me into your house and treating me like family!
Happy training and racing to all!